Mon, Jul 27, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Jobless woes to worsen: analysts

COUNTING NUMBERS The Taiwan Labour Front says more people are leaving the job market because of the decline in opportunities, while many are underemployed

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The unemployment problem is expected to increase next month, with a higher jobless rate, increasing hidden unemployment and deteriorating work environment, even though last month’s unemployment rate was just below 6 percent, experts said.

Council of Labor Affairs Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) set a goal at the beginning of the year to keep this year’s average unemployment rate below 4.5 percent.

Labor activists were critical, saying conditions would not improve as fast as officials were hoping and the government was not being realistic.

“The job outlook is not very good for the coming year,” said Son Yu-lian (孫友聯), secretary-general of the Taiwan Labour Front. “Expecting to keep the year’s unemployment rate below 4.5 percent is too optimistic.”

The unemployment rate was expected to be at least 5.5 percent this year and next month’s jobless rate will most likely exceed 6 percent because the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics said last month’s jobless rate was 5.94 percent, Son said.

Aside from increasing numbers of unemployed, there has also been a steep climb in the number of people not participating in the workforce, he said.

This shows that many workers are gradually leaving the job market and part of the working population are becoming non-workers, he said. These may include people who have given up looking for jobs, new graduates who choose to seek higher education because they cannot find jobs and women who become full-time housewives because of scarce job opportunities.

Kenneth Lin (林向愷), an economics professor at National Taiwan University, said that as labor supply continues to exceed demand, it can be expected that working conditions would deteriorate.

Employers still receive applications even if they have dramatically lowered salaries and compensation packages, since many jobseekers have lowered their standards because jobs are at an all-time low.

Democratic Progressive Party legislators said last week that the jobless numbers were being manipulated by the government, which counts people who work at least one hour a week as employed.

Such workers do not earn enough money to support themselves and their families, Lin said.

“More people are willing to take jobs that they would not have considered before,” he said, because they can no longer expect the conditions and opportunities that were available before the economic downturn.

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